Magazine article Insight on the News

Arrogant Senators Snub Taxpayers

Magazine article Insight on the News

Arrogant Senators Snub Taxpayers

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the citizens of Arkansas (or any state) have the constitutional authority to limit the terms of their congressional delegation. In response, the Senate is using our tax dollars to argue to the court that the people have no such authority.

Eighteen months ago, in their customary "we don't get along on much, but we can all agree we hate term limits" approach, Senate leaders of both parties - Majority Leader George Mitchell from Maine and Minority Leader Bob Dole from Kansas - slipped through by unanimous consent a resolution that authorized the Senate legal counsel to represent Dale Bumpers, a Democrat from Arkansas, in a case that will be argued before the high court this fall.

Mitchell's remarks in the Congressional Record reveal the predictable position of the Senate: That Arkansas (and the other 14 states that have voted to impose term limits on their congressional delegations) has sought to "impermissibly add to the uniform qualifications for election to the U.S. Senate and House specified in the Constitution." Mitchell then described the proper process for amending the Constitution, in which the House and the Senate "consider initially the policy arguments for and against limiting the terms of members of Congress" via legislation introduced for that purpose.

Surprise, surprise. The Senate leadership says the only way to limit terms is for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment. But since Mitchell made his remarks, the Senate has not conducted a hearing on any term-limit proposal. In fact, there are no signs that the Senate has any intention of seriously considering a constitutional amendment to limit terms, even though five such resolutions have been introduced in this session of Congress.

While the Senate has utterly failed to act on the political front, its legal counsel has been engaged in the matter that has reached the Supreme Court, which is a consolidation of two cases, US. Term Limits vs. Thornton and Arkansas vs. Hill. The original plaintiffs, Bobbie Hill and Arkansas's League of Women Voters, constructed their lawsuit in a disingenuous way, not only asserting that Arkansas's term-limits law is unconstitutional, but also naming as defendants all Arkansas elected officials whose terms would be limited by the new law - thus ensuring that the "defendants" would agree with the plaintiffs. All but a handful of the defendants did exactly that: They either sided with the plaintiffs or ignored the suit altogether. …

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